Posted 20th June 2012 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

Without traffic, your website is nothing. It's like a shop window with the blinds down. It can be as magnificent as you like, feature rich, creative content, luscious images ... but no one comes to visit. Why is that?

Like all these things, it's specifically about your business and the market you are trying to target, but here are some simple pointers to help you think about your website and how it might work more effectively:

Bother to think about the content on the pages. Do this in two respects, particularly the following: 

1) Think about the message you are creating and its relevance to the reader - are you speaking to them about their problems and your solution to them; or are you just talking about your company and what it does or where it's come from? The former is gold dust, the latter is largely irrelevant.

2) Then consider how search engines work and the keywords that people will type in to them in order to find a business like yours. Put those keywords and phrases into your headlines and body copy; attach them to the Alt text (hidden metadata) that sits behind images and pops up when you drift your pointer over them; use them regularly, but without making the content stilted. You can try to do this yourself, but experienced Search Engine Optimisation experts can use their dedicated tools to make your content a magnet for searches.

Work out all the ways you drive people to your website and optimise these:

3) Build a good mailing list and then use it, grow it, capture the name and email of every person who walks into your business and get them to agree to be emailed. Build simple but elegant emails that tell people about new products, services, staff, events or anything else they may be interested in. Don't hard sell, just update. Add links from articles to relevant pages on your website so that you put people into your context and they can wander around to find what you're about. Make sure that the landing pages are designed to engage people and have calls to action.

4) Use social media to share links on your site with your visitors' own networks. These are people you don't know, whom you are unlikely to contact, but who have a potential interest in your products and services. Use of social bookmarks (not to be confused with links to your own social media pages) gives your visitors the chance to click "Like" or "Tweet" (or indeed any of the other sharing services) to alert their friends to what you have to say.

Build your company's reputation online by creating useful articles:

5) Make new content that highlights you as an expert - for example, write a blog that demonstrates that you know what you are talking about and that showcases some of the techniques you use in your business. This isn't giving away the family jewels - far from it. It's about sharing your knowledge and helping your clients. If someone can build a business as good as yours on the basis of your blog posts, then they are remarkable!

Plan your web strategy:

6) Write a content plan that maps out what new material will appear on your website every month - stick to it!

7) Then think about all the elements that push people towards that content: advertisements on buses (yes, really!); email campaigns; social media activity; blog and news stories; postal mailers (if you must); television and radio advertising. Consider what elements of that content will drive traffic, to where and by whom. Think about how you should optimise that process: make calls to action really challenging; make imagery consistent and distinctive and make the copy in the content match the areas on your website

There's much more, of course, but these seven tips take into account the four key areas: Content; Drivers; Reputation; Strategy.

Nick from ExtraMile Communications Ltd in Eccleshall, Staffordshire.

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